Google, Barnes & Noble take on Amazon with same-day book delivery

Google (GOOG) and Barnes & Noble (BKS) will start same-day delivery for book orders starting Thursday. The partnership is an attempt to challenge Amazon's stronghold of the online book orders market. So which same-day service is cheaper – Google and Barnes & Noble or Amazon? 

Toby Talbot/AP/File
Shoppers leave the Barnes & Noble store on in South Burlington, Vt on Nov. 29, 2010. Barnes & Noble and Google announced a partnership to bring same-day shipping on book orders in select cities.

Google and Barnes & Noble are joining forces in a big way. The two companies are partnering to provide same-day shipping for online book orders starting Thursday, a move to challenge their mutual rival Amazon.

Using Google Shipping Express, customers in Manhattan, San Francisco, and West Los Angeles can buy a Barnes & Noble book online and get it delivered in a few hours. The new partnership will go head-to-head with Amazon’s same-day shipping service, which expanded to 10 cities Wednesday.

“Many of our shoppers have told us that when they read a review of a book or get a recommendation from a friend, they want a really easy way to buy that book and start reading it tonight,” Tom Fallows, director of product for Google Shopping Express, told The New York Times. “We think it’s a natural fit to create a great experience connecting shoppers with their town’s Barnes & Noble.”

For those with a Google Shopping Express membership, shipping on some-day orders is free (a price for a Google membership hasn’t been announced yet, but right now memberships are free to users for the first six months). For non-Google members, shipping is $4.99; in comparison, non-Amazon Prime members have to pay a first-time $9.98 fee for same-day shipping. 

So, let’s say you want to buy a new hardcover edition of the Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. It sells for $18.45 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you’re a Google Shopping Express member, then you can get that book same-day without paying for shipping.  That’s the same for an Amazon Prime member, but to become a member costs $5.99. So, depending on your membership status, buying from Barnes & Noble could save you a couple of dollars.

Google started its shipping service about a year ago, but it has failed to catch on with users. The service already delivers from 18 stores, including Target, Walgreens, and Whole Foods. Google uses a fleet of carriers to pick up products from physical stores, and then delivers them to homes in a three to four hour window.

This partnership could be a big boost to Barnes & Noble. The company’s online and in-store sales have declined dramatically over the past few years, mostly due to competition from Amazon. Over the past five years, the company has closed 63 stores. Barnes & Noble currently has 660 stores and 700 college bookstores, which sell between 22,000 and 163,000 titles depending on the size of the store. 

Barnes & Noble already offers free express shipping to its members, and free shipping on all orders over $25. Customers in New York City can get same-day shipping also. The partnership opens Google's customer base to the book retailer.

Michael P. Huseby, Barnes & Noble’s chief executive told The New York Times that the partnership with Google is "a test" that he hopes will connect the company's online sales and its physical stores.

Amazon has long dominated the online book market, but it has faced problems in recent months. Tension between Amazon and Hachette publishing over the online book business have upset a lot of book lovers. The new Google-Barnes & Noble partnership could be cheaper than Amazon and provide an outlet for those looking to boycott the online marketplace. 

Customers can use Google Shipping Express to deliver Barnes & Noble orders by buying books from the Google Shipping Express website.

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